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Title: Writers, fighters and prostitutes : women and Burma's modernity, 1942-62
Author: Than, Tharaphi
ISNI:       0000 0004 2728 666X
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis explores the political and social landscape of Burmese women from 1942 to 1962, focusing on three groups of women - writers, fighters, and prostitutes. It finds that although the roles of women - and of these three groups in particular - evolved substantially in this period, women remained essentially sidelined from the main political movements and events. Women fighters were drafted into the army during the latter stages of the war, essentially to undertake propaganda work while the men, the backbone of the resistance against the Japanese, went into hiding. But at the end of the war, the women were dismissed, and came to play no significant part in Burma's armed forces. Many of these women then moved towards the communists: but there again they were sidelined. Burmese women were also discouraged from playing prominent parts in the newly independent Burma's politics, often by women themselves. This period also saw the problem of prostitution become a moral rather than a public health issue. Whereas the British had been concerned to curb prostitution in order to protect British troops and the wider European population, the AFPFL of U Nu saw prostitution as essentially a moral issue and a threat to nation-building. The curbing or eradication of prostitution became crucial in U Nu' s drive to highlight the importance of morality in creating a clean state amidst accusations of corruption on the part of his ministers. Problems of prostitution promoted him to defend morality and more importantly Buddhism. In essence the thesis concerns the conflicts between modernity and tradition in a Burma moving from colonialism into independence, as played out by and for these three groups of women. The modem Burmese woman demanded modem commodities such as cigarettes, nylon fabrics, and contraceptive pills, and business used images of modem women in advertising to capture modernity. But many, both men and women, saw modernity as a threat to nation-building and, more importantly, to the purity of the Burman race and Buddhism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available